The year was 1999, and Francis Plowman had just accepted a job in Medford. He and his wife, Gail, had gotten married a week earlier and both were excited — if a bit apprehensive — about moving from their mutual hometown of Philadelphia to the wilds of Southern Oregon.
When they laid eyes on the contemporary, Northwest-style house on one-third of an acre, they knew they were home.
"I loved it the moment I saw it," says Gail of the 2,000-square-foot, three-bedroom, two-bath home that was contractor-built in 1992. "I love the openness, and it's just perfect for the two of us."
The only thing that worried the Plowmans was the furniture and art they'd shipped from the East Coast — how would these 18th- and 19th-century family heirlooms blend into a contemporary setting? The solution was to fearlessly mix newer pieces with the antiques, creating a comfortable fusion of eras.
This tasteful marriage begins inside the home's leaded-glass front door. An antique, drop-leaf table and two early-19th-century, rush-seat, ladder-back side chairs are arranged on green marble entry tiles. A small antique mirror over the table reflects a bouquet of elegant purple tulips.
The tiled entry gives way to oak flooring, which the couple had installed four years ago, carefully choosing the light hue to enhance their wooden furniture.
"Every year we try to do something toward maintenance and keeping the house updated," says Gail.
One year it was a new roof; the next it was a fresh coat of exterior paint. But it was the flooring that made the most dramatic change, replacing aqua-colored Berber carpeting and providing a base for rich, blue and red Oriental rugs.
To the left, the entry opens into a formal dining room defined by gracefully draped picture windows, a cove ceiling and freestanding corner wall. A modern-meets-Art Deco chandelier hangs over a dark-brown antique table; like the nearby tea chest and sideboard, it has been in Francis' family for almost 300 years.
"The furniture details are all complemented by the crown molding around the walls," says Gail, pointing out the home's many classic architectural details.
As the home's focal point, the living room features a corner fireplace with green marble hearth and mantel, windows opening onto a tree-lined patio and an open floor plan leading to the breakfast nook and galley kitchen.
"This room is really what sold me on the house," says Gail, who looked at 35 homes before meeting the right match. "If you were to entertain here, you'd never be far from your guests."
Upholstered furniture arrangements in Victorian blue and dusty rose create inviting conversation areas, and there's plenty to talk about.
Against one wall is a mahogany and tooled leather-topped kneehole desk that displays family photographs and anchors an antique painting of English hunting life. Next to the desk is a mahogany and ebonized "College" armchair from Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Va., where Francis's father went to school (he later became vice president of Scott Paper Company and is immortalized in a vintage company portrait hanging in the Plowmans' guest room). An oval side table with unique harp detailing from Gail's mother sits next to the sofa, holding an antique blue and white lamp. All is overseen by two whimsical porcelain dogs perched on the mantel.
In a former career (he's now marketing director at Rogue Creamery in Central Point), Francis was a furniture buyer, and some of his own purchases can be seen in the nook. A white, wicker settee with rosy fabrics and a glass-topped coffee table define a lovely sitting area. The couple likes to breakfast at a small, portable, tiled table and stool set that doubles as a bar during parties.
White cabinets outfitted with brass hardware to match the light fixtures and white marble counter tops accented with teal edging keep the kitchen sleek and integrate the teal-colored linoleum floor. Stainless-steel appliances were added last year.
"The white makes everything look so clean and makes the house look bigger," says Gail, who confesses she is flirting with adding some color next year.
In the master bedroom, a wicker bed frame is dressed in contrasting Ralph Lauren linens.
"The wicker keeps the house from feeling too heavy or strict with all the wooden furniture," says Gail, indicating a 51/2-foot tall, Pennsylvania maple chest with molded brass cresting (circa 1770). A Raggedy Ann doll sits on a rocking chair from Gail's side of the family, and the couple's wedding photo is displayed on a circular walnut candle stand.
A new shower and Jacuzzi tub with white marble surround was installed last year in the master bath, which also features a double sink vanity and walk-in closet.
More updates are visible in the television room, where wicker furniture was recently replaced with a Scan Design microfiber sofa bed, two leather rockers and a round coffee table.
The guest room features one of the couple's most outstanding antiques: an American birdseye maple, four-poster bed with turned posts, manufactured in 1835. The bed's canopy was removed so it would fit in the room, also furnished with a tiger maple night stand and mirror and needlepoint accents.
"I suppose we like the traditional furniture because that's what we both grew up with, and we're used to it," says Gail. "We both love the history of it. It looks so dignified and classic to me, and I don't think it ever goes out of style. Plus, when we placed it in this house, it just looked like it belonged here."
Certainly the same can be said of the homeowners.